MIT''s 2020 Foresight

MIT''s 2020 Foresight

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

What will a good supply chain look like in 2020? How should shippers prepare today?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology''s Center for Transportation & Logistics plans to answer those questions through a new project, Supply Chain 2020.

There are two pieces to the multiyear project, said Larry Lapide, research director. The first involves determining how companies will need to prepare for the future and the second is determining "what makes a supply chain excellent," he said.

Before joining MIT, Lapide was an analyst at AMR Research. Back then, "If I was talking to someone about what would happen in 2020 they would fall asleep," he said. At MIT, "the reason we look at the long-term is so the future doesn''t catch up with you."

"An excellent supply chain goes through ups and downs," he said. "If we only look at the short term we see those who are doing well today. We are interested in who has done well over a longer period of time and what they are doing that other people can replicate."

But don''t expect short-terms results. It will be several years before MIT is ready to release its findings, Lapide said.

The project is part of a joint initiative between MIT and the University of Zaragoza, Spain, the regional government of Arag"n, Spain, and the companies of PLAZA, a logistics park being developed in Arag"n. MIT launched its Spanish partnership last year.

MIT created an advisory council to "make sure whatever advice we provide is practical," Lapide said. Approximately 75 percent of the council consists of manufacturers. The remainder includes suppliers, software vendors and third-party logistics companies.